Today, we are taking you on the best Northern Lights tour Iceland has to offer.
To tell you the truth, our biggest fear about going to Iceland was not being able to see the Northern Lights. We do not deal well with disappointments and that’s why we had been putting off going to Iceland for so long.
ABOUT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
As you may already know, the Northern Lights are also known as Aurora Borealis and it is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It is believed that the Aurora Borealis form when the particles of the sun penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield. The charged particles collide with atoms and molecules in our atmosphere, resulting in bursts of lights call photons. The aurora is made up of these photons.
The colours that make up the Northern Lights come from these particles colliding with different elements. Collisions with oxygen gives the familiar red and green light, whereas collisions with nitrogen produces pink and purple lights.
There are undoubtedly many companies that offer a Northern Lights tour. The reason why we chose Happyworld was mainly because all their tours are small and exclusive. The visitors to guide ratio is always 1:7 or less. What’s more, they take you out on converted Land Rovers which means they take you to places coaches or mini-buses can’t.
Although, understandably, no one can guarantee the Northern Lights on any tours, the guides at Happyworld are expects of the weather and meteorology. Their tour guides are well trained and have a passion for hurting down the aurora! They don’t have control over the weather but they do have a 93.33% sighting rate!
We were picked up from our hotel at 8:30pm and greeted by a friendly Viking, Throstur. Throstur stands at almost 7 foot tall and he was our driver and Northern Lights hunter for the night. We scootched into the Jeep where we met our fellow passengers from all over the world. There were 7 of us in total which made a very packed but warm car.
We headed out on to the road and we met up with another car along the way. We were taken to an off-track road where the guides set up their equipments. We were taught some exercises to keep warm which made us look like jumping penguin.
The moon was very full and bright that night which made seeing the aurora difficult. Throstur told us about the Northern Lights and let us see the moon and stars through the telescope.
Not long after that, through my camera, I was able to see the faintest smudge of green in the sky. But with our naked eyes, it looked like a cloud. It was REALLY faint in real life!
Throstur took a few individual photos of us and we waited for the lights to get stronger. We were served hot chocolate and Icelandic pastry while we waited. Unfortunately, the lights faded and we moved on to another location.
Throstur, aka the Northern Lights Whisperer, checked his phone for the weather and took us to the highest point of Mosfellsbær. When we went out of the Jeep and we were hit by the icy cold wind. Most of us waited in the car (thank goodness for off engine heaters!).
THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT COULD HAPPEN ON A TOUR
At this point, we had been on the road for over 4 hours and I (Hannah) had consumed a copious amount of hot chocolate. Cold weather makes my bladder week so I only had one thing on my mind (and it wasn’t the Northern Lights…)
I desperately needed the loo…. Unfortunately, my anatomy given by God does not make this task easy. To cut a long story short, I had to relieve myself on top of a blistering cold and windy mountain in the dark using a cup… hiding behind a rock…..
We did not catch the Northern Lights there… and I never want to live that bit of my life again.
IF YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY AND TRY AGAIN
We were a little disappointed with our first night. Although we technically ‘saw’ the Northern Lights, it was only really through the camera.
Happyworld offers unlimited free re-runs that are valid for 2 years if you do not get to see the Northern Lights. We took that opportunity to go out again the following night. This time, we were taken to a lovely spot with wild open plains. The moment to stepped off the Jeep, we were able to see the Northern Lights! It was faint but we could make it out with our naked eyes. We were thrilled!!
We took a million photos and after a few hours, called it a night and headed back to the hotel.
- Fantastic, dedicated, expert tour guides- We really saw the passion our guide had and we really admire his upbeat energy and the way he looked after us!
- Success rate- technically, we went out twice and saw the Northern Lights twice! We know that without their expert knowledge, we would not had known where to go to see the Northern Lights
- Small group- We really enjoyed chatting with our fellow passengers while waiting for the light. It is actually a really fun and speical experience to share with other travellers
- Unlimited photos- All photos taken on the night were sent to use free of charge, so you don’t even have to worry about not having the correct camera to capture the Lights
- The little things likes hot chocolate and pastry- they really made a difference, especially in the freezing cold. Not to mention how handy the cups became in the end…..
- No toilet breaks- Need I say more? But of course it is very difficult to find toilets in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the night
- The car can be packed- With a full tour, it can be a tight squeeze in the car (but at least it will keep you warm)
- No one can force the Northern Lights to appear… Oh the sad truth!
- Wrap up warm- However many layers you think you need, add 1 more…. It gets very very cold at night. We needed at least 5 layers in the beginning of November
- Bring heat pads for your hands and feet
- Bring a tripod if you have a DSLR camera
- Empty your bladder right before the trip and try not to drink too much, even when they offer you yummy hot chocolate
- If you are out on a day tour during the day, make sure to inform them that you have a Northern Lights tour so they can bring you back to your hotel on time
- Manage your expectations- We have seen so many amazing photos of the Northern Lights beforehand and it is easy to fixate on that. You need to remember that even if you do see the Northern Lights, it may not be what you expect. Best to go without expectations and just let it surprise you!
So there you have it! The best Northern Lights tour in Iceland. Sure, we have only been on the one, but we are pretty confident that it is the best one! Who else will provide you with a cup to pee in at desperate times right?
THANK YOU HAPPYWORLD!
**Disclaimer: We were guests of Happyworld but all opinions are our own. All photos are taken by us or Happyworld and all photos are edited to bring out the colour of the lights.**